|The Duke & Duchess of Windsor dancing at the Moulin Rouge Night Club in the 1950s. Uncle Johnny on sax!|
When my good friend Rosie sent me this great photo of her husband’s Uncle Johnny on sax playing with a band that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor danced to, I knew I wanted to share it with everyone. With her kind permission I am able to do just that!
Rosie tells me the photo was taken in the early to mid-1950s at the Moulin Rouge Night Club, in West Palm Beach, Florida, probably in winter, which was the height of the season there. Uncle Johnny is the dapper man with the saxophone in the back. I loved what Rosie wrote of him:
|The handsome Johnny on sax!|
“Uncle Johnny was a saxophonist much of his life and worked in many famous and upscale clubs, mostly in New York City and Florida. He also played the sax with the orchestra at the Waldorf-Astoria in the 50s. I loved his stories of the rich and famous who went to the nightclubs he played in. The moment I was introduced to him by my then-boyfriend (who became my husband), I knew we were kindred spirits.
“His two greatest loves were music and golf. He passed away in the late 80s on the golf course while playing golf.”
How great to get some background on Johnny! I have always thought the men who played in bands and orchestras in that era must have led some pretty interesting lives. Can you imagine the people they met and the traveling they did and the parties they must’ve had or attended?!?
|A magnified shot to show the jewelry better, hers AND his!|
As for the Duke and Duchess, their expressions in this photo crack me up because they both look so bored! You know my jewelry-addled brain could not help but immediately hone in on what pieces the Duchess had on and I thought it would be fun to try to identify what she is wearing in the picture.
|The 1946 Cartier bangle. From the book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, 1987.|
The bracelet was very easy—it is her 1946 Cartier bangle of carved sapphires, ruby beads, brilliant-cut diamonds and diamond baguettes, all set in 18 karat gold. Stunning! It was part of her collection that went to auction at Sotheby’s in 1987. The front was designed as a peacock feather and the center sapphire has a female profile carved into it, surrounded by a foliate border.
|The original illustration of the Cartier bangle. Superb artistry!|
The earrings were also easy to identify. They are her Van Cleef & Arpels mystery-set ruby and diamond earrings shaped like ivy leaves. The book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner does not state what year they are from, but my guess is the mid-1930s. They are magnificent. These earrings also went to auction in 1987. I weep, I think these earrings are just so gorgeous.
|Also from the book by Culme & Rayner. I love these Van Cleef & Arpels earrings so much.|
|A necklace by Cartier once owned by the Duchess of Windsor.|
The necklace was harder for me to figure out, and so was what looked to be a brooch pinned to the bodice of her gown, on her right hand side. It was not listed in the book. I searched around the internet and think I have figured it out: it is a Cartier-designed necklace, possibly from 1949, commissioned by the Duchess (or maybe the Duke) and intended to be Indian-inspired. It features ruby beads and detachable brooches that can be worn front or back and are connected to the ruby necklace by several slender gold chains. I think that is the brooch that is visible in the picture, and the gold chains would be hard for a camera to pick up on film. I read online that Cartier created the brooch from the tassels and clasp in 1963. I also read that the Duchess gave the brooch to Princess Michael of Kent as a wedding present in 1978, which would explain why it was not in the book. I have also read that it is now called the “Cherries Brooch,” so I am including a picture of it that I found on the web, just so you can see all the glorious color!
|Now a brooch owned by Princess Michael of Kent!|
All of those rubies on Wallis must have looked amazing. A glittery red heaven! Everything I read or learned about this necklace/brooch combination was from online sources, which I always take with a big grain of salt, so if you have any concrete information, do share it with us in the comment section. I love being a jewelry sleuth, but I also like to have my facts straight!
As for the Duke, I believe he is wearing two Cartier Trinity rings stacked on top of each other on his pinky finger. They appear to be of two different widths, one set a bit bigger than the other. He was frequently photographed wearing them this way, as seen in the photo below.
|The Duke of Windsor with his Cartier Trinity rings. It looks like he is wearing two of them!|
Let me know what you think of the jewelry on both the Duke and the Duchess. If you have any stories about what it was like to be in an orchestra or band in the 1950s, I am all ears!
Thank you so much to Rosie for sharing this photo with me so I could share it with all of you.